OTTAWA – New mothers and fathers planning to begin their parental leave on or after Dec. 3 will be able to spread their federal benefits over a longer period of time.
The federal government’s long-promised changes to parental leave rules will go into effect early next month, says Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, allowing eligible new parents to take up to 18 months of employment insurance benefits after the birth or adoption of a child.
Duclos says parents can choose how they want to receive their benefits, but the total amount of benefits paid to them will be the same.
“The first option will be to combine parental and maternity benefits at the current rate of 55 per cent for a period of up to 12 months. The second option will be to extend parental and maternity benefits over 18 months at the rate corresponding to 33 per cent of the average weekly income.”
“Each family will want to decide on what is best for them. That’s exactly the key objective,” he adds.
Duclos says this will give families more flexibility. “The conditions — the family conditions, the work conditions — of Canadians are quite diverse and we need to adjust the EI system to modern society.”
On that same date, a new family caregiver benefits will also kick in — one a 15-week leave to care for a critically ill or injured adult, the other a 35-week benefit to care for a critically ill or injured child.
“This new employment insurance benefit will make a difference for all those Canadians who work hard and must also take care of a loved one,” says Duclos.
Eligible soon-to-be-mothers will also be able to claim maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before the baby is due.
The change in rules will automatically give more workers in federally regulated workplaces like banks, transport companies, the public service and telecoms the option of taking time off, and are likely to spur calls for provincial changes to allow the other 92 per cent of Canadian workers access to similar leave.